Having young children, you might think that you will have to be confined in the house until they reach that age when they no longer have too many needs that might pose a problem if you’re on the go.
The good news is that this does not need to be so as more and more modern parents venture into local and even international holidays while tagging their babies along.
The definition of “too young to travel” might differ from family to family. However, generally, children who haven’t yet been potty trained, still need several naps during the day or haven’t yet grasped the concept of following instructions are those we pertain to in this article.
We’re looking at infants and toddlers younger than three since this age group needs attention the most.
Below are the things you might want to consider to experience a fuss-free trip with your tiny tot in tow:
1. Safety first
Safety is a big concern not just for kids but for everyone when traveling.
Whether you are moving by bus, plane, car, or boat, make sure to have a quick safety check to ensure everyone is as far from danger as possible in the event of an accident.
If traveling on the road, make sure you have the correct car seat for your child installed properly.
Many car seats for young children are designed to be installed in a rear-facing position since this is the optimum position for child safety in the event of a collision.
For adjustable car seats that are made to grow with your child, you may have the option to place them in a front-facing position. However, it is best to resist the urge to have your small child front-facing, especially if he is below a year old and less than ten kilograms.
If traveling by air, make sure to abide by aircraft rules and regulations regarding safety for children.
Generally, newborn babies under a week old are not allowed to fly due to cabin pressure changes that might strain the baby’s immature system.
Although kids two and below are allowed to sit on a parent or guardian’s lap during the flight, the Federal Aviation Administration recommends all young children travel with a proper restraint system, either a car seat for smaller kids or a child harness for bigger ones.
It would also be a good idea to pay attention to safety protocol in an emergency landing. The cabin crew usually demonstrates this before takeoff.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding your child’s safety, such as baby vests and air masks, you may inform the crew upon boarding so that they can accommodate you.
If you’re going on a cruise or a boat trip with your baby, be also aware of safety procedures in the event of an emergency.
The US Coast Guard mandates that babies less than 18 pounds, or roughly four months and up, should not travel on boats. The reason is that they are still unable to fit securely in a personal floatation device if undersized and underweight.
It is perfectly allowed to bring your newborn onto a docked or anchored boat or one moving slowly for as long as they are wearing an infant life jacket specially designed for babies as light as 9 pounds.
Keep in mind that this is a situation wherein strapping or restraining your child in a car seat or any non-floating device is very unsafe.
2. Keeping them entertained
Long haul flights, long drives, endless horizons, while all of these sound like blissful relaxation for most adults, it is a dreaded ordeal for parents with young kids in tow.
Your babies will likely get tired, bored, or tired and bored all at once and the best way they let us know of their weariness and boredom is by throwing a massive fit.
Being in an enclosed space for hours on end with a screaming baby is an incredibly stressful situation.
There is just something about a baby’s cries that makes an adult feel like something terribly wrong has to be fixed ASAP.
The fact that everyone is in a moving vehicle and can do nothing is a frustrating predicament and thus results in heightened stress levels.
Luckily, there are a few tricks that parents can keep up their sleeves to redirect a child’s attention, keep them occupied for some time and possibly tire them out enough for them to go to sleep.
If it’s your baby’s first time on a plane or in a boat, chances are she’ll be fascinated by everything in your new surroundings for quite some time.
Let her revel at all the things around her while she still finds them entertaining: the windows and the view, the appliances, the tray tables, the furniture, seatbelts, or anything that catches her eye.
Take advantage of this time and bring out your bag of tricks only when she starts to actually need them.
Toys are an obvious first choice for entertaining babies while traveling. For babies under three months who haven’t yet started getting active, their favorite blanket, stuffed animal, and maybe a pacifier would be a great idea since babies of this age love sleeping all the time.
For babies somewhere from that age up to a year old, rattles, a teether, colorful nesting toys can serve as temporary entertainment and at the same time provide them with a sense of familiarity in case the new environment is making them uncomfortable.
Toddlers are a lot more active and will want to move around a lot, so dolls, little animals, or toys that have movable parts like a toy car dashboard may keep them in their seats for some time.
Play-Doh has been proven to keep them engaged for prolonged periods. Although it may be a bit messier, the clean-up is surely more pleasant than having to endure the continuous whining of a bored toddler.
Books are a great next option for travel entertainment, especially if you’re traveling steadily like on a plane or ship. Your little one will surely marvel at listening to stories while looking at the pictures, while your older child may enjoy flipping the pages too.
Coloring books are an excellent alternative for older kids who can draw. This is a great way to keep your child silently engaged for long periods. There are also some great STEM-specific toys for older toddlers to enjoy while traveling.
Screen time may be a good idea during lengthy travels. While you may impose strict regulations on your child’s screen time on regular days, traveling may prove to be a whole lot different.
Make sure to download your child’s favorite shows and a couple of age-appropriate games for them to enjoy.
Some airlines offer inflight entertainment for kids, so you might want to check these out too, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring along a kids’ tablet just in case your kid has a favorite show that he wants to watch during travel.
3. Nutrition on the go
Babies who still rely on milk usually have straightforward nutritional needs when traveling.
All you need is to stick to your baby’s regular feeding schedule and have a box of formula and distilled drinking water on hand. If your baby is breastfed, it is all the easier since all you need to do is put them to the breast on demand, and you won’t have to worry about bringing infant formula or finding clean water.
However, if your baby has just started eating and you want to stick to giving them healthy food even when traveling, it might be a bit more challenging. One great option for weaning babies on travel is oatmeal.
You can place cooked oatmeal with some mashed fruit in small serving size jars so you can pop one open when it’s feeding time. The same can also be done with fruit and vegetable purées.
If you’re worried about making a mess, you can also try to preload a baby squeeze spoon so that feeding is a lot cleaner with significantly fewer chances of spillage.
For toddlers, engaging them with their food is a great idea to keep them nourished and entertained while traveling. It is a good idea to mix plain cereals and dried fruit in a bag for them to snack on.
Just make sure that the cereals and fruit you choose are kid-sized and not choking hazards. Another great snack option is hardboiled eggs. They are easy for kids to hold, have their own shells, so you don’t need a special container, and delicious on their own.
If your toddler is craving a sweet treat and you want to give them something healthy, you can whip out small tubs of yogurt or those that come in squeezable pouches that your toddler can eat by themselves.
Cut up fruit like thinly sliced apples in a lunch box is also a great and healthy idea.
4. Sleep woes
Before you even get out the door to begin your journey, make sure that your baby is well-rested for the trip ahead.
Many things can take place during travel, and it could be a stressful situation for your child if he is subjected to a bombardment of new experiences while being physically exhausted.
Your baby will be more appreciative of the unfamiliar sights, sounds, and people you meet while traveling if he is fresh from a nap or, better yet, a good night’s rest.
When temporarily living in unfamiliar territory like a hotel or a relative’s place, it is best to make your baby’s sleeping area as familiar as possible. So pack his favorite blanket and plushie, and if you could, bring his bed covers as well to make the place smell and seem like his own room.
If he has a night light or music box in his room that you can easily bring along with you, that would be great too.
And speaking of keeping things as familiar as possible, when traveling overseas or specifically in a different timezone, it would be best to keep your baby in his timezone, especially if the time difference is only about an hour or two.
Adjusting to times as an adult can be pretty stressful, so you can imagine your child’s fussiness if they’re suddenly kept awake when they should have long been asleep and vice versa.
However, if it cannot be avoided, it’s perfectly fine to stay flexible, especially if your baby doesn’t seem to mind. What is important with keeping flexible on travel is to return to your normal sleeping routine once you get back home.
Vacations are a special period in time where you are free from the obligations of daily living, so you have more time to spend with your family and therefore have more time paying attention to your baby’s needs.
Routines may be essential to keep up with the pace of the daily grind, but that is not necessary if your family is on holiday.
Just make sure that on top of a good night’s rest, your baby gets to have at least one good and solid nap in a day. This way, tantrums and meltdowns are kept at bay, and everyone gets to have a good time.
All that being said, there is no secret formula to survive traveling with young kids.
All you need to do is be as prepared as you can be by planning and foreseeing every need that might arise.
And most importantly, make sure that you and your baby get the most fun out of your family adventure so that every minute you spend traveling can be all worthwhile.